Abigail Willis, who wrote the original London Garden Book has now updated her work in a new revised edition that is a delight to read.
As the weather draws into winter we get less and time in the garden. For me withdrawal symptoms definitely start to kick in. I know it when it happens, because I resort to reading books about gardening. So, I was delighted the other day when Abigail Willis' new updated edition of the London Garden Book dropped into the letterbox.
Though it's an A-Z, don't expect an exhaustive list of every single garden and park in London. Abigail is more selective than that. Instead she highlights the best examples of garden squares, allotments, stately homes and private gardens right across the capital. She seeks out the unusual. For example I'd never heard of The Brunel Museum Garden, which has its own circular potager, nor yet of the weekend cocktail parties that occur there. (Everything is the garden is drinkable!). I'd never been to the Japanese Garden in Holland Park, even though I used to live there many moons ago. Have I simple forgotten of its existence?
The listing is not necessarily by garden name. The reader is just as likely to find a letter of the alphabet used to gather together examples of garden genre. 'F' is for front gardens and features my good friend Naiomi Schillinger's edible front garden initiative in North London. 'P' is for pocket parks. 'L' is for livery company gardens. In this way Abigail manages to pack in far more than 25 locations in her listing. She gathers the different types of gardens together, so that we can enjoy this harvest of the most interesting green spaces in London. And they are all photographed beautifully, many by the author herself.
It's a personal selection. Abigail is interested in the unusual, the environmental and the quirky. Expect to find gardens in here that you wont find in other, more mainstream listings.
There is an interesting section on gardeners as well as gardens. I'm flattered to have found myself and the rooftopgarden in this section, along with such luminaries as Caroline Gregory, who gardens on a roundabout and Charles Rutherfoord who tends an exotic garden in Clapham.
In addition there are some useful lists like horticultural societies and horticultural organisations, together with an invaluable list of garden centers. (Really important in London where garden supplies are very thin on the ground.)
But the nicest thing about this book is that it makes wonderful grazing matter. Sit back in an armchair, throw another log on the fire and enjoy dreaming of summer.
London Garden Book by Abigail Willis ISBN 978-1-902910-59-8
Publisher MetroPublications Ltd